- Federal scientists calculate Lake Powell’s loss of storage capacity due to sediment buildup.
- Financial regulators advise businesses climate disclosure rule.
- Watchdog agency finds thousands of federal support Housing Loans Insufficient flood insurance in 2020.
- Army Corps of Engineers considering revisions Oil and Gas Pipeline Construction License Because of climate, water and environmental justice issues.
- Lawmakers introduced a bunch of water related bills: On the Chattahoochee River, U.S. water and sanitation needs, and trading water futures contracts.
- White House Promise water safety and sanitation foreign.
- A sort of Dam Safety Engineering California gets $100 million from federal infrastructure bill.
- Cybersecurity Agency Report digital threat Water and sewerage facilities.
- White House science advisers begin work on assessing environmental and climate impacts cryptocurrency.
Finally, Senate committees hold hearings on two related bills water rights of native american tribes in Arizona.
“This bill carefully balances the interests of the lower Colorado River Basin and includes important safeguards that promote water conservation.” — Bryan Newland, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for India. Newland testified at a Senate hearing on two tribal water rights bills affecting Arizona tribes. One that would extend the timeline for a settlement with the White Mountain Apache Tribe and increase authorized funding by $250 million. Another would allow Colorado River Indian tribes to lease or store their Colorado River water rights off reservations.
In Context: Colorado River Indian Tribe Takes Step Toward Marketing Valuable Water in Arizona
$100 million: Federal Infrastructure Act funding will be used to protect California’s BF Sisk Dam from earthquake hazards. The funds are part of the $500 million the Act allocates to the Bureau of Reclamation for dam safety repairs. The total cost of the Sisk project, which was completed in conjunction with the California Department of Water Resources, is estimated at $1.1 billion.
$1.2 billion: The Biden administration’s three-year pledge to fund water security and sanitation abroad. A USAID told the Circle of Blue that this is the first time the White House has confirmed water and sanitation as a multi-year priority for foreign aid funding. Funds will be allocated according to plans set out in the World Water Act, which means a major focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
SEC Proposes Climate Disclosure Rule
The securities regulator has expressed interest in requiring companies to report greenhouse gas emissions from their operations, as well as the risks climate change poses to their businesses.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which protects investors, has made some demands.
If they go into effect, the rules will require companies to report physical risks such as water scarcity and areas exposed to severe storms or water shortages. They need to disclose the location of the facility at risk. In areas of high water stress, companies must calculate their water use as a percentage of the water withdrawals in the area.
The rules also require companies to disclose their own greenhouse gas emissions (known as Scope 1) and emissions from purchased energy (Scope 2).
Additionally, companies must disclose how they plan to meet their climate or water conservation goals.
Congress’ water bill
There are a lot of water proposals in Congress, probably due to the World Water Day news hook.
- The Chattahoochee River Act introduced by the House would allow the Army Corps to cover most of the cost of environmental restoration and conservation projects in the Georgia watershed. The federal cost-sharing is 80 percent, but the total cost of any project cannot exceed $15 million.
- The Senate’s proposed WASH Sector Development Act would require EPA to report to Congress the number and approximate locations of people without access to drinking water or sanitation infrastructure. The report will also estimate the cost of providing access to these people. The administrator of the EPA will be designated as the chair of the working group that will prepare the report. The bill also authorizes $50 million annually over five years for a grant program that provides wells or other decentralized systems to low-income households.
- House and Senate Democrats have introduced the Future of Water Act, which would ban trading in water futures contracts. In December 2020, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange began offering water futures, a bet on the direction of water prices. They do not involve trading actual water.
Army Corps Pipeline Permit
The Army Corps said it would consider revising the state’s general permit used to authorize oil and gas pipelines amid concerns about climate, water and impacts on marginalized communities.
The latest version of Nationwide Permit 12 was approved in the final days of the Trump administration.
General permits are designed to reduce the paperwork required to approve oil and gas pipelines — as long as the pipeline meets the list of conditions. The Biden administration wonders if its predecessor’s rules were too lax.
General licensing is at the heart of the recent controversy over the Byhalia pipeline, which will run through Memphis.
The Army Corps has until May 27 for comment. Submit comments to email@example.com with subject line docket ID number COE-2022-0003.
In context: Army troops cut stream protections in Trump administration’s final days of deregulation push
Research and Reports
Lake Powell Storage Capacity
Lake Powell is shrinking in many ways.
In addition to the supply-demand imbalance that has caused the reservoir to decline, Lake Powell’s water storage capacity is also declining.
Between 1986 and 2018, its maximum capacity fell by 4 percent, or more than 1 million acre-feet, according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The decline is due to the accumulation of sediment at the bottom of the reservoir.
Water and Sewer Cyber Threat Report
Hackers are targeting water and sewer suppliers for geopolitical purposes and financial gain, according to a report on cybersecurity threats to the industry.
The report notes that these threats are likely to persist and increase in the near and medium term.
The report is based on 44 entities registered with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Threat Protection Service.
Bitcoin’s impact on the environment
President Biden’s scientific advisers are working on his March 9 directive to assess the environmental and climate impacts of cryptocurrencies and digital assets.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is seeking public input on important factors to consider in its analysis, including water and energy use for cryptocurrency mining.
Responses should not exceed 10 pages and should be emailed to DigitalAssetsRFI@ostp.eop.gov with the subject line RFI Response: Climate Impact of Digital Assets. The full specification of the response is in the link above.
Insufficient flood insurance for FHA-backed loans
A regulator found 31,500 federally-backed home loans in 2020 did not have proper flood insurance, exposing the Federal Housing Administration to $4.5 billion in unnecessary financial risk.
on the radar
Household Drinking Water Hearing
On March 29, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee will hold a hearing on improving America’s drinking water system, focusing on the opportunities presented by the federal infrastructure bill.
Great Lakes Advisory Committee Meeting
The group advising EPA on matters related to Great Lakes recovery will hold a virtual meeting on April 6. The meeting is public, but you must register by April 1st.
Federal Water Tap is a weekly summary of trends in U.S. government water policy. For more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.
Brett writes about the politics and economics of U.S. agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and water. He also writes “Federal Faucets,” a weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the recipient of two Environmental Journalists Association Reporting Awards, one of the nation’s highest honors in environmental journalism: first in the US series for explanatory reporting on septic system pollution (2016) and third in beat reporting. Small Market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he climbs mountains and bakes pies.Contact Brett Walton